Community News: Charity partnership between local Hospice and Stevenage FC goes from strength to strength

Stevenage Football Club’s charity partner of the year is Garden House Hospice Care. On 14th December, ahead of their match against Exeter City, the players visited the Hospice to learn more about how their support will make a difference to people in the local community living with life-limiting conditions.


The visit began with players Carl Piergianni, Ben Thompson and Dan Butler having some heartwarming interactions with four patients on the Inpatient Unit, before heading over to Ernest Gardiner Centre for a lively Q&A session, where members of our community were able to ask any questions they wanted. As well as giving their own SFC branded goodies to patients and other members of the Hospice community, the team also handed out Christmas presents kindly donated by the Stevenage TSB branch to the children who attended.

Players Carl Piergianni, Ben Thompson and Dan Butler visiting Hospice patient, Simon.

Here’s what some of the players had to say about the work the Hospice is doing:
“They do fantastic work here. To see the level of care people receive is very humbling.” said team captain Carl Piergianni.

Defender Dan Butler added: “I didn’t realise just how much work the staff do. It shocked me. The funding is so important, people need the Hospice.”

The Q&A with the players in Ernest Gardiner Centre.


Charlotte is the daughter of a former patient, Christopher, who used the Hospice at Home service when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  She shared how the Hospice helped the family spend their last Christmas Day together:
“It’s really hard looking after someone at home. Mum was there and one of us was always there, but it wasn’t enough. The Hospice at Home team came in 3-4 times a day for the 8 weeks until he died, and having them here made such a difference.  It meant he was comfortable at all times, in his own space, he could still view the garden he loved, his grandchildren could come in and out. Without the Hospice at Home team, Dad wouldn’t have been home for Christmas. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without their help.”

Charlotte with her son receiving gifts from Stevenage FC.

This inspiring partnership also got the attention of BBC Look East, who attended to capture the player’s visit to the Hospice. You can read their article here, and watch the broadcast here (skip to 04:50 mins in) to find out more.

Vivien and Derek Underwood have supported Stevenage Football Club for nearly 50 years. When the charity partnership with Garden House Hospice Care was announced, they bought the brand-new shirts the same day and have proudly worn them since.

The Hospice is on their shirts but also in their hearts, following the loss of their beloved Husband and Dad, Alan, who died in the Hospice six years ago.

Alan supported Stevenage Football Club from the beginning, and even took on a volunteer role at the ground after he retired. He introduced his son, Derek, to the club at a young age, attending games together for decades.

Alan receives a hug from Stevenage mascot ‘Boro Bear’ at a volunteer event

“Dad and I went to games together for years. It was our thing. The club means a lot to us, we have so many memories there and they have been so great to us as a family. Dad was so committed to the club, volunteering 4 days a week, tidying up the ground and doing any jobs that needed doing. Even after a storm, he would be out on the pitch with a shovel clearing away the snow. It made us laugh because on days he was ill, he would phone the commercial director up to call in sick and they’d laugh and say ‘You don’t need to call in sick Alan, you’re a volunteer!’.  When Dad died, a few people from the club came to his funeral, and they even let us have his wake at the football club, gifting the food and function room in memory of Dad. It was so kind.  I had a stroke 2 years after Dad passed away. It’s been a bit of a journey. My mum now comes with me to the games as a carer and she really enjoys it.”

Vivien remembers Alan’s time at the Hospice fondly and was thrilled to see the partnership announced.

” When we found out Garden House Hospice Care was the club’s charity of the year we felt so proud, it is such a brilliant cause. We bought the charity shirts that same day and now wear them all the time to help raise awareness.  My husband passed away 6 and a half years ago from Bowel cancer. The Hospice supported Alan at home, helping us understand his condition, balance his medication and help relieve his pain. We were so comfortable with the team. When your husband is unwell at home and people you don’t know come round to care it could feel very strange but not with the Hospice. He was so comfortable with them, as were we. We felt a part of what was going on, we knew how Alan was and were communicated with and looked after so well as a wife and son.  Alan stayed at home until his symptoms got worse.

Alan received care from our Hospice at Home team and Inpatient Unit during his illness

The team made a call to the Hospice Inpatient Unit and a few minutes later they called back to say there was a bed.  We were so relieved. We went in the ambulance with him and felt so much better within moments of walking through the door. We were able to stay here with him, taking it in turns to stay the night.  I can’t do anything but praise the staff. Alan, Derek and I were all looked after so well it was wonderful. On brighter days we would walk with him in the garden or sit on the patio in the sunshine chatting. The garden at the Hospice is a special place, a place Derek and I now walk around before my counselling sessions here. It brings us closer to him and our memories again. It means so much. The counselling I receive today is really helping, I feel so much better afterwards and so grateful to have the Hospice in my life.  It was the best place for Alan to be at the end of life and the support before and after is hard to put into words. There really is no place like it.”

Next time you’re at a game, look behind the manager’s dugout – you’ll see Vivien and Derek proudly cheering the players on the pitch in memory of Alan.

Derek and Vivien have a photo taken with Stevenage F.C. players Carl Piergianni, Ben Thompson and Dan Butler.

The charity partnership aims to raise £30,000. Every penny raised directly pays for expert compassionate palliative care and support for local families in Stevenage and beyond.
Replica jerseys are available to purchase now at and from the Stevenage FC Club Shop.

Garden House Hospice Care provides free specialist palliative care for patients, families and carers facing life limiting illnesses from across North Hertfordshire, Stevenage and towns and villages in Central Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, serving a population of around 260,000 people.

Working with a medical team of highly experienced doctors and nurses, the Hospice has specialists in a wide range of roles including complementary physiotherapy, bereavement, occupational therapy, complementary therapy and spiritual care.

It costs Garden House Hospice Care £6.5m to provide their services, and although they receive some funding from the NHS, they need to raise £9,700 every day in charitable income and greatly rely on the support of the community – local businesses, groups and individuals to help fund their work. They also rely on the support of a fantastic team of volunteers to help them deliver services.

For further information about Garden House Hospice Care, please contact: Aaron Thiele, Communications Manager –  / 07535 585907 / The fundraising team on 01462 679540 (option 3) or visit: